Heidi Herriott's HorseTrix was featured as a National TV series on the FamilyNet Channel in 2013.
NOTE: Please check out my wonderful sponsors and their commercials on the Sponsor page as they will not show in this version of Episode 1
Show Notes: I shot this show (the pilot) at Circus World in Baraboo, Wisconsin in May 2012. I performed there with my horses in 2011 and 2012. The horse I used is from Domino Stables in Baraboo. He is a beautiful Morgan and was just wonderful. I truly only visited him one day prior to the taping to see his personality and whether he would be a good candidate. What you are seeing on the show is the result I got from him without working with him prior. He was fabulous! He is a well bred horse, but also had the solid foundation that I am always talking about.
About Circus World... Baraboo, Wisconsin was the first place that our family really called home. I was just a year old when my parents signed on to move there and train and present animals for Circus World. We lived there most of the 1960's. My three sisters and I all loved growing up there and being a part of the menagerie that was our lives. When I returned to perform in the summer of 2011, it was like going home. It was made even more special as both of my kids, Tyler and Cassidy, worked with me that summer.
Circus World houses what I believe is the largest collection of circus wagons in the world. There is also some living history as several of the barns on the property were the original barns used by the Ringling Bros. around the late 1800's and early 1900's. Circus World is just 15 minutes from the popular Wisconsin Dells. It is a very affordable and wonderful day with the family. Great ratings on Trip Advisor!
Episode 2 – Nov. 18th & Dec. 30th
Training the YES with a Morgan horse; covering the prerequisites for training tricks including lunging
Show Notes: The Morgan horse in this episode is the same horse as in the 1st. He was just fantastic! This episode was also filmed at Circus World (see notes in Episode 1 above). You may notice that I always train the tricks in basically the same sequence. This is purposeful! I like to start with the easy tricks and this gives us an idea how the horse is going to react, and also how solid the horse's foundation is. You don't want to start out of the gate with the bow or pedestal, for example, as these are more difficult and it is important to keep everyone safe. Start with the basics and then you should be able to move along pretty quicly from there if your horse has a great foundation.
Episode 3 – Nov. 25th & Dec. 6th
Training the NO with a paint/QH horse; Working with a horse who has been pastured for years – getting back on track
Show Notes: In this episode I start out working the horse in the round pen and then end up lunging the horse. Again, due to editing and time alloted for the show, things don't always end up quite the way you might like! Wiley was a neat horse to work with. He was just getting too fired up in the round pen and actually looked like he might try to jump the fence. When the horse gets to that point, it is time to 'rein' them in and get them settled down a bit. Unfortunately, due to time and editing, you did not see this transition. Horse training requires us to first and foremost, stay safe and from there to continually assess how effective we are. I knew that Wiley was get too worked up, so I altered the plan and went with something I knew would still meet my goal of getting him to work off some energy, and then understand he needs to stop and come to me when I ask him. Moving to the lunge line was the right move in this case. Also, as I note during the show, I would not start training tricks with a horse like Wiley who is not yet solid on his foundation. I am a stickler for making sure the basics are solid before moving on. Wiley did seem to be coming around pretty quickly though, so it would not take more than a week or two of working on his foundation to move into some other things. He was a willing, sweet, smart horse!
Episode 4 – Dec. 2nd & Jan. 13th
Training the SMILE with mini horses; working with a disrespectful mini horse
Show notes: This was a fun segment to tape working with the mini horses. Magic, the black mini is a beautiful little guy with perfect confirmation and lots of talent. He is, though, all boy! Champ is a sweetheart and very willing. I really enjoyed the outcome of our roundpenning session wth Champ. It highlights how important it is to stay with the task at hand and be patient. Champ would not line up, and was also being disrespectful eating grass. I encouraged Donna to stay with it and the result was exactly what we wanted - a nice lineup! It was also fun teaching all these guys the smile. The smile is fairly easy to teach and lots of fun. Just remember to progress by phasing out the treats and asking them to hold the smile longer each time. If you want to have some fun, watch someone teach their horse to smile. The faces that WE make when teaching the horses to smile are priceless :)
Episode 5 – Dec. 9th & Jan. 20th
Training the Pick Up with the Mouth. More than one family member working same horse. Getting kids started right.
Show notes: This episode was shot at Twilight Farms in Winter Garden, FL. They were wonderful hosts! Starlight was a nice little mare. She was not thrilled that I asked her for different speeds than she wanted to go. She was pretty easy going, but like so many horses I have worked with, she wasn't happy to be asked to do something a bit out of the ordinary for her routine. This is where people tend to get into trouble. We have horses who don't move too fast or fuss too much, but eventually they forget they are not in charge and will display their displeasure. I see this most often in the form of bucking when asked to canter, or not moving forward unless they want to. These lead to dangerous interactions so I suggest that we keep our horses sharp by mixing up their routine a bit, spending some time on groundwork a few times a week, and making sure YOU stay in charge. Then you should be able to enjoy safe and positive interactions with your horses.
The trick, pick up with the mouth is fun to teach. Some horses will be much more eager than others, but everyone can learn it. Once they get solid with this, you can ask them to pick up a hat, boot, whip, or more. Use your verbal cue, "Get it" to ask them to pick something up. You can also tie the handky to an item to help them learn.
Episode 6 – Dec. 16th & Jan. 27th
Training to Mount a Pedestal. Working with a horse who has one speed –fast!
Show Notes: I realize after watching the finished episode that the title does not exactly fit. Due to the editing process and time constraints, you did not actually see Josie tearing around the arena. I do apologize for that! She was a nice horse but was in fast mode. It just did not highlight that in the segment we did with her. I do hope that the instruction I provided is helpful however for those of you who do have horses who like to go fast. What often happens is that we lose our fine tuning in the corners and such. If we let it go, we lose more over time. That is why it is so helpful to mix it up a bit and get them more responsive to our legs and body. Ultimately, relying on the reins and pulling back will not help the situation!
Regarding stepping up on the pedestal, I was so pleased with Josie. What you saw on camera was the first time she did it and you were able to see how calm we went about it. Some people are not excited about using the hobble, but it is such a great training aid. It keeps the situation safe - I did not have to bend over and try to hold a horses legs, and it allows me to stand up and stay in position to cue the horse properly. That is where most folks run into trouble. If you are able to stay in the position that you want to be in once the trick is trained, you will be much more successful if you train it that way. It is also so unsafe to be bending down around the horses legs when teaching them new things. I recently used my hobbles to teach a horse to break down (pray) and a very successful dressage trainer who was watching could not believe how calm the short session went. The horse did it on the first try and there was no dancing around or chaos. As I always say, if you do a good job with the basics, there is no end to what you can do from there. I am having SOOO much fun working with the horses at Arabian Nights. They are so well-mannered and have a great foundation, and very smart and willing. It is such a pleasure to train every day! Happy training days :)
Episode 7 – Feb. 3rd & March 17th
Training the Bow. An interview and training session with Heidi's dad, John Herriott
Show Notes: THis was one of my favorite episodes so far! I wanted to have my dad be a part of one of the shows and, as is the case with my dad, I did not have to prep him at all. I just told him to talk about training, and I just love what comes out when he starts talking. He is right on the mark! He is one of the best trainers I have ever had the pleasure to work with. He has done so many types of training and with a variety of animals including elephants, horses, zebra, camels, llamas, dogs, goats, sheep, and more. He has trained and worked animals in performances, movies, zoos, and such. In addition to the magic he creates with animals, he is also a wonderful and colorful speaker and writer.
Training the bow is the most requested trick! Often times I help people retrain the bow. Many start with the treat down low and cannot get the trick completed. I prefer to use the hobble and make it nice and easy AND get it finished so that you can not only bow for fun, you can also mount the horse this way. In episode 8, I provide an alternate way to train this trick in the event this option is not working for you. As always, I would love to see pictures of your horses doing tricks. You can post them on my Facebook page.
Episode 8 – Feb. 10th & March 24th
Training the Bow - Part 2. Building confidence and desensitizing a horse on an obstacle course
Show Notes: This was a fun episode of HorseTrix. I was working at the Longbranch Stable in Parrish, FL (Sarasota/Bradenton area) where the owner, Ed McAdams, has created an amazing 52 natural obstacle course for horses and riders. It is a terrific place to help build confidence working with your horse, and also desensitizing your horse. The course is available by appointment. Go to www.longbranchstable.com or call 941-776-3603.
In this episode, I show you another way to train the bow. This is helpful if you are not very strong or you are not tall enough to feel comfortable trying to reach over the horse. Consider having someone your trust help you by training this for you as you instruct if you are not able to do this yourself. DO NOT try to have 2 people actually pulling on the rope or next to the horse. You can easily get hurt this way! If your horse has a solid foundation and you follow the instructions for the bow, you should be seeing results in a few training sessions. You may still be using the hobble, but it will go very easily. What you want to do then is progress! Put the hobble on BUT do give the horse a chance to work from the cue of tapping below the knee and saying "bow down". Use the hobble if you need to but do push forward to get the cue. The reason to have the hobble on is that, if they don't respond to the cue, you don't want to lose valuable time by having to stop and put this on. If you are ready you can insist by using the hobble if they are not responding.
Two very important things to remember training a bow... These are the two things that trip most people up. THe first is to make sure that as the horse bows down, their body moves back. Make sure you move back a step of 2 as well. You need to stay behind those front legs to be in a position to cue and hold the bow. This is also where you would mount from. So ask yourself, could I mount my horse from this position? If not, take a step back!
The second is - do not bend way over. The reason we use whips is to extend our arms. In this case, we can stay upright while tapping the horses leg (below the knee!). This keeps us safer; in a position of authority; AND makes it much easier to create the verbal cues. When people bend over to train the bow, most cannot then stand upright without the horse getting up. Practice this alot once you get a solid bow. Don't hold your breath or be afraid to move a bit while the horse is in the trick. DO always use that 'WHoa" to keep them in it, and then your release cue "alright" to let them up.
Have fun with this and post pictures of your bows on my FB page. Happy Training!
Episode 9 – Feb. 24th & Mar. 31st
Training to push an object. Part 2 of the interview with Heidi's dad, John Herriott.
Show notes - It was great to be able to provide more footage of my father talking about training. Hearing him talk reminded me of so many reasons why I love what I do, and also how fortunate I am to have him as a mentor. He has such a gift with animals. I never got too excited about the 'horse whisperer' as I had the privilege of watching and learning from such a wonderful and talented trainer. He is retired now, but still provides wonderful wisdom and also great stories.
Teaching the horses to push the ball and other objects was fun and SOO easy! They love to do this. It can be applied in so many ways once they get the basics down. Happy training :)
Episode 10 – March 3rd & Apr. 7th
Learning to work with two horses in liberty training. Heidi's liberty horses performing their routine.
Show notes - I am often asked how I get more than one horse to work together in a liberty display. In this episode I show viewers how to start working more than one horse in a round pen. I have always used my training surcingle which includes the surcingle, crupper, side checks, and a bridle with a basic snaffle bit. This provides a lot more control when working with the horse. They cannot run around with their head looking outside as they are 'checked up'. This harness and set up also help with collection when you are riding. The horse learns to set his carriage. Before you put two together, make sure that each horse is solid on their own in coming to you when asked and changing directions by turning in to you. I never allow a horse to turn away from me unless we are working on some very advanced maneuvers with well trained horses.
Also in this episode I work with Lady Dancer and Lucky Star in their Big & Little liberty routine. Again, they were trained with harness and have been performing together long enough now that I have the option of using the harness. Happy training :)
Episode 11 – Mar. 10th & Apr. 14th
Training the Breakdown or Prayer (another version of a bow). Working with High School horses at Arabian Nights.
Show notes - This was a fun episode as I had just started working for Arabian Nights and enjoyed working with some of their horses and riders. High school riding, which is featured in this episode comes from the French words Haute école which mean literally a high level of schooling. High School riding predates dressage. It is the most advanced training I encounter and is very challenging and enriching all at the same time. The riders in this episode, Zach Becker and DIana Sauer are both very nice riders. The quieter you can sit your horse and guide them, the more successful you will be!
The trick we trained is what we have always called a breakdown. Others call it a camel stretch or prayer. It is a great stretch for your horse - a little horse yoga :) A word of caution - do not try to mount from this position. The horse does not have any leverage like they do with their knee down in the bow. Happy Training :)